The men in this Karachi neighbourhood don’t let women obtain CNICs

There exist women in Karachi – the most ‘modern’ city of Pakistan perhaps – who are still deprived of...


YUSRA SALIM March 17, 2017
Women in Mauripur, Karachi, are not allowed to step out of their homes without a male family member. They are also not allowed to get their CNICs made, which deprives them of voting right. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: There exist women in Karachi – the most ‘modern’ city of Pakistan perhaps – who are still deprived of franchise: female residents of a neighbourhood in Mauripur are not allowed to obtain Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs).

Mauripur is a suburban area of the sprawling metropolis. A mixed population of Pathan, Baloch and Seraiki people resides in Jhaskani Muhalla near Grex Stop on Hawke’s Bay Road and adjoining areas.

Women here are not allowed to step out of their homes without a male family member. They are also not allowed to get their CNICs made, which deprives them of voting right.

These women, who say they are keen to bring about a change in the country, would not have been counted in the census had the primary requirement of the exercise to have a CNIC not been relaxed by the chief statistician of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Standing at the gate of her residence, 20-year-old T* shares her ordeal. "I want to do a lot in my life,” she says. “But living in this part of the city, it is a dream to even avail the development programmes running in our area and learn something. Because we do not have CNICs, the programmes do not enrol us."

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T speaks about the reasons their male family members give to justify not letting the women obtain CNICs. According to her, the men do not allow them to get their pictures clicked, which is an essential requirement for the CNICs.

“What is the use of CNIC for women who are not allowed to even step out of their houses without their husbands, brothers or sons?” she laments. “Our forefathers never got their wives’ cards made. How can we go against them?”

Samina Bernard, a local who is actively working for the rights of women in the area, talks about the daily struggle that women face. According to her, the men say that why women would want CNICs when they have been getting everything at home since ages. “They will keep getting food and clothes without CNICs, they say.”

Confined to homes

Some years ago, a small office was set up in the streets of Father's Colony, where a man was appointed to register the female residents for CNICs, shares Bernard. However, the office shut down recently when no one went to register themselves.

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Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP), running under the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Human Resource Research and Development Board, was also set up in the area.

"The BBSYDP requires CNICs to register women to get vocational trainings at their centres,” shares A* a resident, hiding her face behind her veil. “The trainees get stipend, too, but people like us cannot avail anything."

A long way to go

"We usually go door-to-door during the day to tell the women about their rights and how they can make the men in their houses realise that their CNICs are as important as the men’s," says Bernard. However, she regretted, the women are afraid of the men and cannot go against them.

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"We are trying to educate people but women here obey their males blindly,” she says. “They do not step out no matter what the conditions are despite knowing that they are deprived of many rights."

*Names withheld to protect identities

COMMENTS (4)

eh | 4 years ago | Reply Such narrow minded and jahil people. It's a shame. The government is useless.
kamal | 4 years ago | Reply In civilized societies if parents abuse children the children are taken away and looked at by the State. The same applies to other dependants. Are we civilized or savages with tribal stone age customs. It has nothing to do with Islam. At least should not be practised in Karachi. As the breadwinner to go to FATA.
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